Does This Photographer Violate Privacy?

“It’s just plain creepy!” “This guy should be arrested.” The indignation that has greeted Arne Svenson‘s series of images, “The Neighbors,” on comment forums has been colorful. The 60-year-old surreptitiously snapped residents in the glass-walled apartments opposite his own in Tribeca, New York, and, without seeking permission from his subjects, exhibited them in a nearby gallery. Using a 500mm lens, he peeked into the lives of others – like a real-life LB Jeffries from the film “Rear Window” – and obliterated the assumed divide between the public and the personal. Unsurprisingly, two of his neighbors sued, having spotted their children among the subjects. Yet a court ruled this month that Svenson’s actions were defensible under the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech, and that such art needs no consent to be made or sold.

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